Saving Mr. Banks follows author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), author of Mary Poppins to Los Angeles where she meets with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), regarding the rights of turning her story into a film. During her journey, she tackles the obstacles of how her vision will be handed to someone else, as well as obstacles from her past.
Director John Lee Hancock showed his inspiring and sentimental side when he directed the 2009 hit The Blind Side, he returns with this light-hearted but very deep film. We follow Travers as she leaves the luxury of her London home to sunny California where she is shown a whole new world. Travers begins as an almost cold and bitter woman, but as the story develops we see her character arc begin to form. The story itself can at time be very light-hearted and funny, but it can quickly shift gears into such a serious and dark territory before you can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. The light-hearted aspects basically occur whenever Disney himself is on-screen and when the well-known moments and beloved songs from Mary Poppins are being introduced to Travers by the writer and the song writers and lyricist. The darker aspects of the story show us some of the inspiration for the story and why Travers is the way she is and why she feels how she feels. While it’s an excellent story, its light-heartedness makes it appear so much like a family film, especially with Mary Poppins and Walt Disney being key figures. However, this is not a family film at all. The dark and serious aspects outweigh all of its happy moments.
Emma Thompson gives a marvelous performance as our leading lady. She provides a lot of the comic relief as the blunt, strong-willed, and opinionated P.L. Travers. But during the moments where she remembers her past, Thompson can quickly show the emotional side of the character as well as she can the comical side…flawlessly. Providing the happiness and light-heartedness of the story is Tom Hanks as the famous Walt Disney. He portrays Disney so perfectly with his optimistic, child at heart personality, and then we see him the serious side of Disney that we have never seen before. It definitely makes for another amazing performance by Hanks this year.
Saving Mr. Banks is a fine dramedy that provides laughs and charm but also deals with very serious issues that don’t work for families to see. But don’t let that prevent you from going out and seeing this yourself. On top of a great story, you have Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks giving two of the best performances of the year.
My Rating: 9/10